You all know I am a very cuddly artist. I may get argumentative when there's a discussion, but I mainly walk around with a horse's head and I give out cake to strangers. But somehow these things sometimes attract a little hostility, even though that's the last thing I'm looking for. So when I decided (with my trusty, very removable, neon chalk-markers specifically made for glass and windows to be removed with just water once you're done with it and which explains why it's so badly visible in the picture) to comment on a piece of advertising so vile it kept me fuming for 5 hours, a man walks up to me to discuss my "defacing public space".
I tried to argue that that is how I feel about the advertisement, that it defiles the public space and peoples right to not be confronted with corporate-sponsored denigrating images. I tried to argue that the markers are specifically chosen because they are easily removable. But he wasn't just offended by my message and method, but also by the fact that I wrote it in English (which was for your benefit, guys) so therefore I must be uneducated and not know Dutch. This, in the context of our discussion, sounded to me like a racist remark, but I'm not certain it was meant as such. He ended with that it was "just plain rude and unacceptable". At that point I decided to stop explaining, ignore him and continue "defacing" with him still shouting a bit from a distance, but I fucked up the grammar because of my nerves. He left after I ignored him for some time. He was rather large, argumentative, very loud and he had an impressively ratty mustache, and as much as I'd have liked to not be affected by that, I was. So, enjoy my grammatically incorrect book recommendation of the week. Go read The Sexual Politics of Meat, go veg, be feminist, I will love you for it and try not to judge you anyway. Even if you are an argumentative intimidating shouty man who does not see the harm in two women fellating meat.
On a more positive note, I've added another piece of angry feminist "art" to this post. I saw a lovely gentlemen wearing a shirt that said "reduce your CO2, grow a bush", and this made me like him immediately. I wish that message was spread more widely. Then there was a Sherlock episode in which John shaves his moustache for Sherlock (cue awkward fan fiction). I agreed very much with John's message and Mary's suggestion that he should put it on a t-shirt. So I did. The stencil may or may not be a stylized representation (to scale!) of the artist's body, and trying to take the picture on which the stencil is based might have been one of the most slapstick-hilarious things the artist has ever done with a chair and a camera. Ok, I'm off to watch some Veronica Mars now and get back to calm. In my household, there's only one man, and he happens to be my dad and also to be very much in favor of giving the neon-colored finger to intolerant powers that be. He thought I was using permanent ink-marker and felt rather disappointed it was just chalk.
If you want to use the stencil, you can download it here. You need to stick the bellybutton on it with a tiny piece of duct tape, but the rest is stencil-proof.
PS. Do men regularly experience this thing where they go outside of their homes and see fellow men spread-eagle, or with mouths open, or licking suggestively at/strokingly holding on to phallic objects or just looking available next to a designer-item everywhere they look? It depresses me and I'm done with it. I don't want to see the men suffering this fate either. I just want a little bit more free expression and a little bit less intrusive mass-marketed corporate shit all over the place! Then you can display as many titillating images as you'd want, as long as it is a form of expression, not the use of the human body to sell stuff or control people. If it turns out to be your deepest desire, you can stand by the traffic lights completely naked, enthusiastically licking 2 sausages at once for all I care. Come see me, I do a great french or italian sausage and know where you can get a performance license!
July 15th, 2014
I've supported Vegan Mashup twice so far. And right now, I am really loving the second season. No matter how much fun it is to see Miyoko Schinner make "unbirds", it is even better to watch her feed the chickens, and have Fran Costigan talk about ethical vegan chocolate. She looks lovely by the way, and I thought she looked a bit scary from the picture in the Vegan Chocolate book. Back on topic: you can buy and or rent it on Vimeo On Demand, and I suggest you do. Especially for the second season. And also because it is a good thing to support people making a vegan cooking show. And it is wonderful to see people with awesome knife skills. Also, I want chickens. Maybe when I grow up and decide not to have cats. Who am I kidding, just look at my cats, you can't say no...
On a completely different note: Father Brown. I did not think I wanted to see a Catholic priest solve surprisingly tepid crimes, my associations with priests are of a less fortunate nature and I recently helped desecrate a church, but I can go for this. He is the epitome of reasonability and rational thought, and maybe a bit more open minded than the Catholic church allows, but I am all for open-mindedness, forgiveness, and rational thought. If you remove the hat, glasses, uncanny ability to end up on a murder scene and the frequent use of the word "God", you are quite close to who I am in a black maxi-dress. I suggest you start with "Ladies of Jerusalem", it is hilarious and wonderful. And Lady Felicia is an absolute joy, as is Mrs. McCarty obnoxiousness.
June 9th, 2014
Little did I know that when you forget to do something with your kefir for a few days, not only do you end up with lots of kefir grains, but also with cider! This is a welcome surprise (I read something along those lines in the fermenting book, but it also looked like it would take forever), because the last time I made cider, it wasn't just disgusting, it also exploded all over the living room, the garden, our cats and the neighbours dog. Seriously. We had to repaint a part of the ceiling (and clean part of a cat). The kefir is non-explosive and tastes good which is quite a relief. Since the grains are growing like mad, I can also give them to all interested friends. It feels rather strange to keep giving people living bacterial specimens, kind of like giving them non-sentient pets. My sister has approved of the kefir, and if she approves of food, you know it's good.
The same goes for Kombucha. A friend of my dad's (whom he met at work in Amsterdam), got us a SCOBY and I can't thank her enough! I thought I had to buy one, but she makes kombucha and her SCOBY had offspring. She gave us two, but now I only have one left because I could't keep up with the amount of babies it kept producing and the amount of kombucha I had to drink.
Kombucha is basically the roller coaster of the lemonade-world. There are no known health-benefits, it is a bit of an unusual activity when you look at it objectively and it is almost completely safe, but a few unlucky people have accidentally died because of it. I am still in very good health after drinking quite a lot of both homemade and store-bought kombucha (and am willing to bet there's probiotics there and in any case a delicious low-sugar carbonated soda). I can report that home-made tastes a lot better than store-bought. So it has gotten to the point where I serve it to friends, but maybe I will never feel safe enough to serve it to frail old people or pregnant women.
Back on the SCOBY: it turns out ours is of noble breading, its grandmother originating at Goldfinch. Which is not only nice to know, it also turns out this is an incredible source of information! I can certainly recommend the True Brews book, and although I have only read it and not tried any recipes yet, I also really like the Delicious Probiotic Drinks book. But the Goldfinch website settled a few issues that my books did not address ("My SCOBY looks a little bit like the elephant man grew a beard, is this normal?"). It is, and the recipe takes a bit longer than the book says, which I noticed, because last time I checked it after 7 days it was still rather sweet. I will update you on the cider, and let me know if you want a SCOBY. Mine is having babies like crazy! I can hardly keep up. Babies come with healthy SCOBY, so I just need do find more friends who aren't afraid of things that look like a cross between a jellyfish and an illegal organ donation.
I also had to share something fashion-related. I have been quite good about ethical fashion in the last few years, buying stuff used or when I know where and how it was made. I can't pretend I do that all the time or as often as I'd like, I am still trying to be better about it. So imagine my surprise when I looked at the bottom of my new (ridiculously high, vegan, leopard print, perhaps a bit trashy) heels and saw "made in Italy". I know that that doesn't make it all ethical and ok, but it is in the EU and it is a country famous for it shoe-industry. And despite being the highest heels I own, they are actually quite comfortable (if sweaty), which is a big thing for a 5 foot woman who usually looks like shot game or a rather ill giraffe when walking in heels higher than 6 cm. This merely makes me look like an antilope with a cold, which is a huge improvement from the physically disabled Emu that I usually resemble when I put on the high heels that get stuck in-between cobblestones (and so I no longer have any shoes that make me look like that).
Ps. I think Welcome to Night Vale had a very applicable sentiment to utter about kombucha. Actually, it was about beauty, but it still applies: "There is a thin semantic line separating weird and beautiful and that line is covered in jellyfish."
June 2nd, 2014
You have not heard from me in way too long. As always, this is because I am a bad, lazy blogger, because I have been cooking like mad, and because actual life got so exciting I forgot about virtual life.
First things first: I am a college student (again). Next year I'll start a pre-master in Theatre Science only a small bike ride from my home, and the year after that the actual master. With courses like 'Audience and Spectatorship' as well as 'Gender, Ethnicity and Culture-critiscism', I could not be more excited.
I also recently decided to pick up the cello again. That was a big decision, I used to play it about 12 years ago. I played it for 7 years and was actually properly good before I quit because my teacher left for Germany and his replacements were mostly comical, and at times horrible. And I haven't touched the instrument since. But I had my first lesson a few weeks ago, and things came back to me. It felt like the best thing I've done in ages (together with yoga maybe). So next September it will be new studies, new old instrument and same old cats. Now all I need is a cello...
The time you haven't heard from me was mostly spent throwing parties, cooking with friends and reading books on food trends. You should read The Tastemakers, it is enlightening and fun. I took a lot of pictures. They are crappy phone pictures, but delicious looking ones none the less. I've started you off with what happens when you try to style a sandwich on your balcony. Sorry, did I say my balcony? I meant the cat's balcony. You should also stay tuned for more cookbook-reviews. I cannot properly describe how awesome Afro Vegan is, nor how delicious the Oh She Glows Cookbook's arrowroot-ovenfries. The Blender Girl Cookbook wasn't that much of a revelation, but the "How to take care of your blender"-part was very helpful. Little did I know I've always made smoothies exactly the wrong way around.
It also seems the cats have gone nuts. I recently saw Betty guard a piece of cardboard wrapped in Sellotape like Gollum watching the precioussss, while Fatty tried to get at it. Also, Betty wakes me if I don't comply with her schedule (I went out and didn't get to sleep until 5.30, she woke me up at 8.30, and proceeded to lick me until I was awake enough to pet her, ugghh). Fatty recently walked in with a white paw now black and covered in tar. She refused to let me clean it, I got scratched. Her back paw is still a dark grey.
May 25th, 2014
The story of how we got our first cat, is a strange one. My mum had always assured me that we would never get pets, because you need to take care of them and it is an unethical thing to keep pets prisoner in your home, let alone a cage. So no bunnyrabbits, cats, rats, birds, no, not even salamanders were ever allowed to come and live with us. And I really wanted salamanders! Then came my 8th birthday. And my sister's 6th birthday (which is the day before mine). I was told we would get a really big gift. And that we would have to share. Armed with this information, my mind created this image of a garage with toy-cars. Because my sister and I both loved those cars that you can wind up by driving them backwards, and in my mind, this fantastical garage was the biggest (shareable and to both of us interesting) gift that could possibly exist. Children of friends had something similar, and I imaged a wooden version, bigger and better.
So when I got out of bed the morning of my sisters birthday, I was surprised not to see a garage. But I did see my sister already playing with the present. She was on the couch opposite the bed and she was stroking what I thought was the best plush toy I had ever seen. I couldn't believe that my parents had found a stuffed animal that looked so soft and nice and I was a bit jealous that we had to share so I immediately started to work out a schedule of who could play with it when. Deep in thought I joined my sister on the bed and touched the toy to feel if it was a soft as it looked, at which point it opened its eyes and yawned, in that way that cats do when they wake up and turn their faces inside out. I was terrified of the cat for to first week but in many ways (he was only with us a year before being cat-napped by a mentally unstable neighbour) it was a formative experience.
I will save the heroic story of how we got the face of evil and her brother, and their continued feud with my father. And also the story of how the fat cat with the pus-infected eye managed to turn my dad from a cat-hating individual into an awkward animal lover. I have never seen someone pet a cat that awkwardly, or let it sit on his lap so reluctantly (while secretly really liking it). If you want to see or read about more cat stories, you should definitely check out the documentary The Secret Life of the Cat, but also the book by the same researcher. It did clear up a lot of things about why my cats are the way they are. It has yet to clear up things about why I am the way I am. I am exactly one of those cat-lover of which Jonathan Safran Foer says in Eating Animals that "display an affection lacking, thank God, in most human relationships".
April 7th, 2014
Friends had a housewarming. And we catered. I only had time to snap some quick iphone pictures of the sweet stuff, but it looked good! Also, it does give me a chance to review some cookbooks.
The brownies are from Vegan Chocolate. I used to make the Deluxe Cocoa Brownies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar, with extra chocolate chips, but then I tried the Very Fudgy Chocolate Chip Brownies from Fran Costigan's Vegan Chocolate. They are wonderful, especially if you top them with caramelized walnuts or hazelnuts. It's a question of wanting a cake-mix-box-type brownie, or something that is mostly melted chocolate with added sugar. Right now I am very into the latter, it's especially good when you eat it out of the oven, still hot and therefore pudding-consistency. One of the things I hope to master in the near future is tempering chocolate, so maybe we'll see more of that.
The other cake is actually a different version of the Blueberry Bliss Cheesecake from Vegan Pie in the Sky. When I say different version I mean I kept the whole tofu-banana-base, but went a bit nuts with the berries. Also with the topping. And the leftover pomegranate was too beautiful not to put on top. The cheesecakes from Vegan Pie are perhaps my favorite ever, although there's a raw strawberry cheesecake, one of the very first raw cakes I ever made, that has a special place in my heart as well. The Raspberry Lime Rickey Cheesecake is actually more my thing than the blueberry one, but the blueberry is easier to adapt to whatever fruit is in your garden or freezer.
To come to a conclusion on this topic: Vegan Chocolate is an excellent book and I'd recommend it to anyone who'd like to get into fancy desserts. Or who'd like to get someone else into bed. Just speaking for myself: chocolate is a very good place to start. Vegan food in general, but the partner who bakes me Bittersweet Chocolate and Lemon Tartlets is a partner I am keeping. Ok, that's nonsens, the partner that's respectful and right for me is the one I am keeping, but tartlets and chocolate ice cream to go with that would be very nice...
April 2nd, 2014
At the end of january, I went on a little pilgrimage. And only just rediscovered I had pictures. When we had art history in high school (it was my best subject, by miles), the thing that stuck with me was Modernism. I was also really into Post-Modernism, but the whole thing about Manifesto's and trying to keep up with an ever-changing world that's too different to capture in a traditional way, I get that. And Post-Modernism to me always felt like what happens when we give that up and just accept that we can never ever ever catch up anymore. Which is equally important, but I loved the ambition of having one outspoken vision and then striving to get there.
So I went to the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam to pay respect to the artist who got me interested in art history in the first place. I saw a quote from Malevich at the exhibition that really spoke to me.
"I have transformed myself in the zero of form and have fished myself out of the rubbish slough of academic art." Kazimir Malevich, Suprematist Manifesto, 1915.
If you ever get the chance to see Malevich's work in real life, you should. I was surprised to find that the paintings actually moved me, it was more a tribute to my love for his ideas that made me decide to visit the Stedelijk. And I thought that black square on white canvas would be great to see. It was. What I hadn't expected was being moved by white cross on white canvas. Like, being moved to tears by it. And there was work by other Suprematists, and that was lovely.
There were a lot of older people, probably pensioners, making lots of noise and standing for incredibly long times in front of pictures. It's why I don't always like going to museums, when there's that many people on a Tuesday morning. And then there were tubby old bald men talking self-importantly about art to way less tubby, decidedly not bald groups of women. This seemed to be a kind of deal that the women had to endure this now the men could no longer feel self-important because of their jobs. And also, the men claimed to understand the art and then proceeded to explain it to the women, and this was ridiculous and sexist. Because why were only the men being self-important, and how can you ever decide that art is something you can analyse and then it's just true. Stop talking, and look at is!
March 27th, 2014
Yeah, so this happened. And I've decided on the direction of this blog. We will share things as always, but I thought maybe we can make recipes and do reviews and iphone pictures. It's something I wanted to do anyway, cook my way through the collection of cookbooks. And there's 108 books to review, if we stick to the cookbooks. Maybe we will lump some of them together, maybe we will just not review the ones that are truly horrible. We'll see.
There's a few posts yet to do before it's cookbook extravaganza over here! If really good recipes get invented, or really good parties thrown, or just nice looking food cooked, then I will try and share. It will probably get quite busy for me, and next year I might go to college to get my masters? If finances and pre-master studies permit. But I will try and make time for it, because it's fun.
March 21st, 2014
So I moved house over the summer. It was a busy time, first graduating and re-evaluating life and friendships and such. It took most of the time since september. To be honest, it feels like things are just now looking up. But what did happen was moving from the room I've slept in for the last 21 years, to a newer, much bigger one.
Not everyone has the money to move out of their parents house. So right now I am like one of those science fiction nerds who live in their parents basements, although I am not 40, not overweight, and not sporting a beard with nachos. Somehow in my mind I turned into Comic Book Guy Jeffrey Albertson. No, seriously, this is a great room, with my own balcony, and I'll keep you updated on how many tomatoes will grow there.
The glass table is an upside down Äpplarö Footstool, painted green. Added some wheels and the top of an old dining table that is so old no-one remembers where it came from. And you already knew about the lovely new chair. It's all a combination of Ikea and things found around the house and in second hand shops. And a few way too expensive design things that I hope will last forever. Like the lamp you see reflected in the table. That is great!
Only thing is the cats. The cats are delightful, but one of them insists on waking me up in the early early morning by either licking my face or mewling in my ear. It's Betty, the one in the picture. It is basically more her bed now than mine. Same goes for any coats I don't hang up immediately. The other one comes screaming at 2 a.m. until I call her and she can run around the other one (or on my head) until they fall asleep. She's no longer fat, but she is very insistent. At some point this has to stop, because 2 a.m. to 8 a.m. is not a lot of sleep.
March 17th, 2014
We will get back into non-food-and-or-cats-related-territory soon, last year I didn't post at all, and I have cooked, baked and read an unholy amount of new recipes in that time. So consequently, there's a lot I've learned that I want to share, because I wouldn't have minded if someone had shared this information with me, say, a year ago. Especially the part about not apologizing for what you cook, and the part where, thanks to Mary Berry, you can be wonderful and amazing at 77 as well as feed dog-contaminated food to Hugh Jackman. It has led me to believe that I am no monster for feeding a few friends pie that had been licked by the tubby cat (don't worry, they knew). And what the cooking loses in hygiene by having a cat on the counter, it gains in friendliness, taste, and presence of cat hairs in the frosting. I am now contractually obliged to say that my personal views are in no way representative of those from the catering company I work for (they are very strict about washing hands beforehand, and keeping animals off of the cooker). That being said, there is no greater temptation to a cat than that of a slowly cooling ceramic cooker, be it covered or not.
I also moved rooms, the new one is amazing, and that meant moving cooking books. I then realized how much of those I had, and that it is, maybe with exception of the rather expensive computer, the most valuable thing it the room (not counting Bobby of course). Just the physical collection (there is a digital one as well), I come to 97 cookbooks. Most of those I've read cover to cover, some of them twice. A friend recently remarked that she doesn't know anyone else who reads cookbooks in bed. Well, I do, and I've found them delightful company with which you can so easily share recipes! Also, perhaps since starting with this post I've ordered at least six more books, and have organized the rest of them by color. There are now so many that keeping them in categories is useless, because do I file international gluten-free breads under international, gluten free, or breads. It can no longer be solved by putting international next to gluten free, or breads next to gluten free, because there's too many different subdivisions in all of the categories.
Anyway, I think I'll start reviewing these books for you. Because that's probably wiser than me giving you even more recipes you'll never try. My tompoezen, seriously, those are great and I have yet to see those anywhere else. Same goes to a lesser extent for the lemon meringue pie, but tompoezen, well, on the mostly English Internet there mustn't have been enough need for this Dutch staple (they are not mille-feuille, those are different, this is what you get when you go to the Hema). Back in topic: we will do cookbooks together, with pictures of tried recipes if there is time. And maybe some blog posts. We're doing some gluten-free baking right now, and that's going wonderfully thanks to this lovely woman! Go check her out. A savory olive-lemon-bagel inspired by here sweet cranberry-citrus-one was a total hit!
Soon, the newly updated book shelve and pictures of food to drool over :)!
March 11th, 2014